Jeanie Buss: '[Russell Westbrook] was our best player last year' - Lakers Daily Jeanie Buss: '[Russell Westbrook] was our best player last year' - Lakers Daily

Jeanie Buss: ‘[Russell Westbrook] was our best player last year’

LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis

Last season, point guard Russell Westbrook served as a scapegoat for many fans and experts in terms of what, and who, was to blame for the Los Angeles Lakers’ failures.

Westbrook’s inability to contribute to winning for the Lakers was seen as a major detriment. While he was far from the only reason the Lakers struggled last season, the general narrative was that he was a net negative to the team.

Despite that fact, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss recently issued an interesting message in which she called Westbrook the Lakers’ “best player” last season.

“All I can say is that, from my point of view, (Westbrook) was our best player last year,” she told Sam Amick of The Athletic. “He played pretty much every single game, showed up, worked hard. You know, I would have loved to have seen what this team would have looked like if they stayed healthy. It’s really tough to win when Anthony Davis isn’t on the court. LeBron [James] was hurt a lot of the season. But Russ showed up every game and played hard every night. And, you know, I just really appreciate him for who he is and what he brings to the team.”

Amick admitted that he “did a double take when Jeanie shared her viewpoint,” and that he was amongst those who considered Westbrook’s first season with the team to be an “unmitigated disaster.”

He later contacted Buss again to ask if she could further clarify her initial take. Unsurprisingly, there was a bit of clarification from the longtime owner.

“The word I should have used was ‘consistent,’” she wrote via text message. “He played 78 games last season.”

Without a doubt, Westbrook was the most available star on the Lakers last season. In those 78 games, he averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game. He shot 44.4 percent from the field and 29.8 percent from the 3-point line.

The numbers are solid, but they don’t effectively depict how Westbrook would often slog down the offensive rhythm and force pointless offensive possessions for the team.

Still, his ability to play in all but four regular season games cannot be overlooked.

James played in just 56 games last season, and Davis suited up for just 40.

Who’s to say that the Lakers, and Westbrook himself, would have faired much better if James and Davis hadn’t missed a massive number of games last season.

The hope is that the Lakers will get to see what kind of success that trio can enjoy in the upcoming campaign. That is, of course, unless the Lakers succeed in trading away Westbrook.